Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Lavender? #StoryADay May; Day Thirty-One

The Prompt:

  • Write A Story About A Writer.

  • This story is the thirty-first in a series of explorations for my upcoming novel, Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8) , which I will be drafting in July.

Today marks the final story in my expedition to learn more about my pending novel’s characters. So it seems fitting that we’ve come full circle, all the way back to what began this series – a postcard of a tropical beach, written in lavender ink, and carrying a shocking, presumably impossible message.

It’s time to meet the author of that postcard, and learn something of the reason for it…

But, before we do that, please let me take this moment to thank everyone who came by to read some or all of this story. Things got a little crazy between physical and fictional realities, and I haven’t been as prompt at responding to comments as I’d like to be.

I’m going to take a few days of (relative) rest, though, and, during that time, comments will be high on my agenda, because I really do love reading and responding to them.

And now, I present…

Lavender?

Ophelia tapped the edge of the postcard on the play table. She looked at the clay, the sinks, the tools, the paints. It was all bright and lovely , and she had it pretty much to herself – the young woman who ran the place was out on the attached beach with her husband and twins.

She hated being here. It was so much like home. But so poisoned, to her mind, by everything that had happened here, ten years ago.

She had to know.

There was no way that Lavender could be alive. She’d held her while she died, while Marilyn was off in the bathroom shooting up her last-ever dose of opioid poison. She’d always wondered which of them had died first, or if it had been at the same time.

She also wondered why that mattered to her. Dead was dead; the end.

Unless, somehow, Lavender was alive.

The bells at the door tinkled, and it opened. A girl who looked barely into her teens came in.

She was blonde, blue-eyed – and she was wearing lavender – a sundress that slipped gently over new curves. She had a wide sunhat with a lavender band, and she looked around the room, then, apparently noticing Ophelia, she came right up to her table.

“I see you got my postcard,” she said, softly, ducking her head. “I wasn’t sure you would come.”

“Why did you write this? Who are you?”

“It would be easier to show you. Can I sit down?”

Ophelia nodded. She hadn’t expected a child – or someone who looked almost like Marilyn brought back to life the way she’d looked in some of those old family portraits in that mausoleum of a house where she’d grown up. Maybe she should be on her guard – but this girl could be Lavender – if Lavender had been a quick developer…

“I brought you a little gift. Maybe that will help me explain.” The girl reached into the handbag slung over her shoulder – it was made of denim, and trimmed with embroidered lavender flowers. She pulled out a long box, gift wrapped in silver paper with lavender hearts, and tied with a satin bow, also lavender. It seemed a bit like overkill, until Ophelia remembered being this age, and how forcefully she’d identified with certain things.

She took the package the girl offered. “Thank you.” A pause, and the child ducked her head. “With all my heart. Please open it.”

Ophelia did as the girl asked. Inside was a bed of – what else? – lavender tissue paper. When she lifted it, she discovered a purple stethoscope.

“I don’t understand. I’m not a doctor or a nurse.” She didn’t add that she also didn’t see what any of this had to do with Lavender.

“But you had a baby niece. Ten years ago. She died.”

“How do you know this? And why did you write this postcard?”

“I – didn’t know how to meet you. And I wanted to.”

“Why?”

“It’s been ten years. I thought you might want to hear your niece’s heart beating.”

What does the girl mean by that?

Who is she?

How does she know about Lavender?

Any guesses?

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

The Hollow Place: #StoryADay May; Day Thirty

The Prompt:

  • Write a Hansel & Gretel Structured Story.

  • This story is the thirtieth in a series of explorations for my upcoming novel, Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8), which I will be drafting in July.

The Hollow Place

“Put it back on! Put it back on!” Marilyn squeezes her eyes closed, claps her hands over them.

“Marilyn, put your hands down and look at your daughter. You can’t hide from this.” There is something in Ophelia’s tone that Marilyn latches onto. It’s a distraction; she won’t have to think about how childish she looks like this, covering her eyes so she won’t see the baby girl.

“You aren’t my mother!”

“No. But you are hers.”

Damn! She’d fallen right into the trap. Ophelia is good enough at that to actually be someone’s mother.

Would her nameless broken doll of a baby be broken if Ophelia was her mother?

“She’s a broken doll – ”

“No, she isn’t. She’s a living being. She’s going to die soon – and she deserves to be seen by her mother while she’s still alive.”

But Ophelia’s wrong. This isn’t a baby, and not a living being. Not really. It’s a broken doll, and she doesn’t want to look at the shattered places in the doll’s head, and the hollow place where a brain should be, but isn’t. It reminds her of the hollow house, and her hollow life.

And the hollowness inside her.

“Marilyn.”

Damned Ophelia, not letting her hide, not giving up on her. How the hell did she get so stubborn, so strong?

But Marilyn knows the answer to that.

She has a mother who loves her. A mother who stayed alive, and does the things a mother is supposed to do for her child.

Marilyn has a baby now. That makes her a mother.

The mother of this nameless, broken baby girl.

She’s broken too – not with a skull that has a hole in it, and no brain inside…no. Not like that. But she’s no less broken.

Sometimes broken doesn’t show unless someone peels back her long sleeves to find the track marks.

“Marilyn. It’s time to look at your daughter. To face this. That’s why we came here, after all.”

She doesn’t argue. There’s no point. Ophelia takes her wrists and applies gentle pressure upward. Gentle, but firm and relentless, just like this strange half-sister who is at least half a mother.

And more of a mother than Marilyn can ever remember having. So she lets Ophelia guide her up, guide her to the side of the little clear plastic basinette where she knows her sister taped pictures and notes – stupid, to do that for a baby who is blind, deaf, and has nothing to see or hear or think with…but that’s not the best thing to be thinking about, because it just slices at her insides, and Ophelia isn’t going to let her loose until she looks, and she doesn’t want to think about what’s waiting when she does.

“Let’s count to three, then it’s time to put down your hands and open your eyes. See her, hold her, and give her a name. Then we can put the cap back on.”

She isn’t going to give up. Marilyn pretends she’s on the nod inside, and counts with her sister.

And then she has to look. At the places where there’s no skull, and emptiness stares up at her…it helps to pretend she’s looking at a doll, and nothing more, but she doesn’t say so, since Ophelia will try to force her to see a real live baby. She looks, but won’t let herself feel. She doesn’t even feel when she holds the little warm bundle – she used to have lifelike baby dolls – that’s all this is. No matter if she doesn’t name her –

“Time to give her a name, Marilyn.”

“Damned nosy kid.”

“That would make a lousy name. You can do better.”

She just wants Ophelia off her back. Out of her face. She tries to think of something – anything.

There’s a lavender band around the edge of the blanket, and on the cuffs of the baby’s sleeper.
It gave her an idea – “Lavender. Her name is Lavender.”

“Miss Morgan?”

Marilyn knows the doctor’s voice; she has an unmistakable accent. Warm and soft, like the way she feels after she shoots up. But now, there’s something darker lacing it, and Marilyn holds the broken doll of a baby close to her, and rocks it. She turns to look at the doctor.

“She can’t live much longer than another day or two. Her breathing is failing. I know you haven’t been ready till now, but the donation papers need to be signed before she dies, if her organs are going to have the maximum positive impact -”

“I have to use the bathroom.” She presses the baby toward her sister; Ophelia opens her arms, cooing senselesly to the blind deaf brainless little thing. She’s distracted by that; she doesn’t look supicious, and the doctor doesn’t know her well enough.

But she has to get away, has to escape. Somewhere with no broken baby dolls, no broken places in herself, no papers to sign and pieces of her doll given to all the mothers of all the other broken baby dolls, because those ones can be fixed, but hers is broken forever –

She grabs her purse and leaves them there. She can feel her kit through the fabric.

She thinks of Brad. This is his broken baby doll, but he left her here alone with it.

He escaped.

She can escape, too.

Will she sing the organ donation papers?

What kind of escape is Marilyn planning?

Is there any hope for her hollow placces?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Just for Fun!, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Burden and Release: #StoryADay May; Day Twenty-Nine

The Prompt:

  • Watch the video and write an Ugly Duckling story.

  • This story is the twenty-ninth in a series of explorations for my upcoming novel, Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8), which I will be drafting in July.

Burden and Release:

Ophelia needs a winter coat.

But, if she buys one, that means she’s staying here.

She peels herself out of the baggy layers of hoodies, sweating and contorting, and pulling a muscle low in her back.

A winter coat would be a burden, but then so are all these layers, and the sweat underneath them, and just being here with the half-sister who seems like she’s more than halfway a monster most of the time.

The ridicule and shame heaped upon her are burying her. Before coming here, Ophelia never really cared what people thought of her – but then, most people seemed to think well of her. Here, just because of the way she looks, and who her family is, she’s judged, and the judgment is grinding and crushing her.

And that’s all before Marilyn had taken advantage of her biological need to sleep, and snuck out.

Another burden, there.

What’s she supposed to do about Marilyn, when nobody else seems to have the slightest ability to change her? When her baby is already as good as dead, and not a person in any sense medicine can explain? Not one adult seems to know what to do – why should she be able to?

**

Ophelia needs a swimsuit.

She reaches for the bell, and two minutes later, there’s a tap at the door, and a package slips through the chute.

“Are you ready to go to the beach, now?” Marilyn’s belly is huge; the baby will be here in a couple of weeks, maybe three, but no more than that.

She pushes the thought away, stretches and yawns. Her muscles are alive and warmed by the sun that reminds her so much of home. “Let’s go, sis.”

Is it just hiding, to pretend that all is well? To ignore that glassy look in Marilyn’s eyes, and the almost giddy bounciness to the way that she walks? To see the admiring glances and bask in acceptance, as though this is a welcome, healthy, happy baby waiting to be born, and a robust young mother-to-be, and a younger sister who will soon be a doting aunt?

Maybe it is – but, as long as she pretends, she’s free of the burdens. Maybe that’s why Marilyn’s always on a trip – it’s her way of getting out from under her burdens.

Maybe this is her type of trip, then – to take this time to just be with Marilyn, in a place where she’s not an ugly duckling, but instead a beautiful swan.

Is Ophelia just on her own kind of Trip?

Is Marilyn actually any better?

Will this end well?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Enterprise fan fiction, Flash Fiction Pieces, Just for Fun!, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

“Am I Psychotic?” #StoryADay May; Day Twenty-Nine

The Prompt:

  • Watch the video and write an Ugly Duckling story.

Standard disclaimer. I don’t own them, I don’t profit from them, but they insist on telling me their stories, so I’m sharing them with you.

Prompt Words:

Braxin:

  • tempestuous

  • obstinate

  • seductive

  • degradation

  • forbidden

kitndavj:

  • Flaming

  • Seared

Writing Group Prompt List:

  • cushion

  • report

  • bed

  • tested

  • level

  • scientific

  • support

  • theory

  • waves

  • psychotic

“Am I Psychotic?”

“Am I psychotic?”

T’Pol sat on her cushion, staring into the flame. Her forbidden excursion had caused a degradation in her logic; she was no longer acceptable for the Consulate. She should be tested in accordance with scientific theory. Logically, she required support.

She rose; went to her bed. Her human’s presence was tempestuous and obstinate, moving through her in flaming waves that seared through her awareness. It was seductive at a level too deep for logic to be relevant. Without him, life would lack something beyond naming.

Real or imagined, he was her flame, her nectar. All was well.

IS T’Pol psychotic?

Will she adjust to the human presence in her mind?

Is that presence real, or imagined?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another 100 word installment, or visit the fanfiction.net series link!

 

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Imprisoned: #StoryADay May; Day Twenty-Eight

The Prompt:

  • Write a story with a Cinderella structure.

“Imprisoned”

Marilyn wants to scream, but her throat is too raw – and, besides, Ophelia’s wearing those damned noise-canceling headphones, so there’s really no point. Maybe it would be worth it if her damned monster of a half-sister would just look at her; but instead she keeps her focus on that book – the one Marilyn’s words exploded in.

She’s never said a word about that destruction, but now she doesn’t let Marilyn near it – or anything else she cares about.

Marilyn tries to tell herself that it doesn’t matter, that she doesn’t want any of the lameass things her naive little bitch of a sister cares about – but even she knows she’s lying to herself.

She wants to get back to that magic feeling they had together when she first got to Hawaii, when Ophelia didn’t know too damned much about her life and what it was really like. She’d stayed at a resort, there, and it had been easy to create an illusion that she was glamorous and sophisticated.

Back there, she’d had the upper hand, and could arrange things however she wanted them.

But it’s different here.

Ophelia isn’t nearly as naive as Marilyn thought, and she’s way too damned smart.

When Marilyn wrecked her little apartment, Ophelia waited until she nodded off again, then somehow got her right back here, to this damned hateful hollow house. She won’t let her have the ragdolls, or her couch.

“I’m sick.”

Ophelia gets up, brings a wastebasket lined with a plastic bag. She’s not smiling, and she doesn’t look directly at Marilyn. “Take care of it when you’re done, or it will stink.”

Then she goes back to the chair she’s backed up against the door – the door of the guest room. She keeps Marilyn right in here, locking the door if she ever has to leave.

“You don’t have any right to lock me up.”

The damned brat lifts the headphones off her ears. “You didn’t have any right to deny your baby what she needs to be healthy, or to scribble all over my home and my things. But that didn’t stop you. There doesn’t seem to be anyone else who wants to help you get better, so that just leaves me. I’m not going to let you hurt or destroy anything or anyone else – not if I can help it.”

“Who died and made you God?”

“Your mother, apparently.” Cold. She’s so damned cold, she slices at Marilyn’s skin like an icy wind. “And I don’t want to be any kind of God, but if there was ever someone who needed someone to get tough with her, Marilyn, you’re it.”

She wants to argue, but she really can’t, because the brat is right. She does need someone to be tough – if she’s going to live. But she doesn’t want to live here. She wants to be someplace else, somewhere she can get away, hook up, find something to give her back her illusions.

Or at least keep her from getting sick –

Ophelia goes back to her chair. She doesn’t even go running anymore.

Marilyn picks up a magazine – Ophelia smashed her phone when she found her trying to score with it, so old-fashioned magazines are all she has left.

And there, staring back at her, is the answer. She feels it like a body high; she knows it’s perfect. Like her own personal fairy godmotherput it here just for her.

“Ophelia, look at this.”

“What?” She’s wary, and keeps her distance. Marilyn tried to go through her a time or two, in the beginning of her incarceration here. Ophelia’s stronger, though, and damned determined.

“This place. It’s perfect for a new start. If we go here, I promise I’ll stay clean.”

“And why should I trust you?”

She shouldn’t. Marilyn knows it; she’s sure Ophelia does, too. But her sister comes closer, takes the magazine from her, looks at it. “I don’t have the money a place like this costs – and I’m not sure you do, either, given the bill collectors who keep calling.” Still, she looks like she wants to go. Of course – she’s from a tropical island.

“Didn’t you see? It’s all free. They’ll even fly us there.” Finally, finally, freedom is just around the corner. Marilyn can feel it, and she almost sobs for wanting it. “It’s going to get cold here, soon enough –” It’s working, but not fast enough. She needs something more; something Ophelia can’t argue with. “I want my baby girl to live and die someplace beautiful – even if she won’t ever see or hear or smell it. Please, Ophelia – it’s the only thing I can give her.”

Her half-sister’s choked-out sob damned near makes Marilyn grin, but then the waves of sickness roll her under again.

She’ll have to wait to do her gloating.

What will Ophelia say?
What is Marilyn planning?
How will things work out?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Third Wheel: #StoryADay May; Day Twenty-Seven

The Prompt:

  • Write A Non-Traditional Love Story.

  • This story is the twenty-seventh in a series of explorations for my upcoming novel, Still Nameless (Kifo Island #8), which I will be drafting in July.

  • Fair Warning: Sexual/Drug References; NSFW or younger kids.

Third Wheel

Ophelia doesn’t even have to open the door to know what’s happening on the other side of it. The sounds leaking and slithering out through the cracks make it clear.

Marilyn is fucking someone (or, more likely, someones).

In Ophelia’s tiny studio apartment.

Again.

Ophelia sighs and turns around, even though she’s exhausted, and she knows neither Marilyn or the person or persons she’s fucking will care if she goes inside. They might not even notice she’s there, honestly, because Marilyn never fucks anyone unless there’s a fix of something other involved. It might be anything; there doesn’t seem to be anything that can be shot up, swallowed, smoked, or snorted that Marilyn won’t take.

At least three voices – two female, and one male, moaned out through the door behind her. So it’s a threesome, or an orgy, maybe.

She doesn’t want to know.

Besides, it’s never about who or how many people Marilyn screws on Ophelia’s bed or floor – or once, the whole damned bathroom, which they flooded before they were done. Because Marilyn will fuck anyone, anywhere, anytime – but none of her lovers are actually her loves.

She can pretend all she wants, and maybe those men even believe her…

But it’s not them she loves. There doesn’t seem to be a single person she does love – no, not even her own baby. Ophelia’s been the third wheel in her own apartment enough to have no more illusions about that.

Marilyn has a lover, of course, and a love. But it’s not the one any of these tools of hers suspect. Probably, if they can see through her, they think it’s the drugs she wants –

But Ophelia’s often heard her sister sobbing in the night, and she was able to read some of Marilyn’s scribbled messages.

What her half-sister yearns for – the love of her life – is a fantasy where she’d lived a life where her parents truly loved her.

Is Ophelia right about what Marilyn most longs for?

Will Marilyn ever heal from that damage?

What will Ophelia do next?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!

Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, Parenting, Story a Day May Challenge, Writers' Resources, Writing in Freedom, Writing Samples

Lousy Mother: #StoryADay May; Day Twenty-Six

The Prompt:

  • Write a story in the form of a series of letters.

  • Fair Warning: Adult Themes and Language; NSFW.

Lousy Mother

Dear Mom,

It’s almost a joke to call you that. You’ve never been a mother to me, at least, not as far back as I can remember. Want to know something funny? I mean, snort-milk-out-your-nose-while-eating-freshly-baked-chocolate-chip-cookies funny?

You ditched me because Dad went and fucked “some little island tramp” and made another kid. Yeah, I know – you put a roof over my head and fed me and made sure I had clothes to wear – but that doesn’t mean you didn’t ditch me, in all the ways that count. All the ways a little girl needs her mother, if she’s going to grow up to be any kind of person worth knowing.

You ditched me, and I’m not worth knowing. I don’t even want to know myself, so I make damned sure I won’t ever have to….but that’s not what’s funny, either.

What’s so funny is that that kid Dad made in Hawaii – she’s more of a mother to me than you ever were. She’s barely sixteen, and she isn’t ready for any of this – I can see it in her eyes when I take the time to look. She’s shocked.

I mistreat her. I want to. For everything she’s ever taken from me, even though I know that’s a lie. She didn’t take anything away from me – it’s not her fault she got conceived, is it? Even I know that. I can’t put enough poison into my body, can’t ever get high enough, to forget that. She’s just the result – and it sounds like it really wasn’t her mother’s fault, either. She got charmed, just like you did. Only, her mother was a kid, younger than me, and she didn’t know any better. You were thirty when you had me, Mom – what the hell is your excuse?

Ophelia – that’s her name – she’s sweet. Kind. Smart. Patient. She cleans my puke and puts up with all the shit I give her, and she still tries to help.

I’m going to have a kid. I’m a lousy mother, already. Made it so my little girl doesn’t even have a brain. But maybe that’s a good thing; without a brain, she’ll never live long enough to know what a lousy mother the kid of a lousy mother can be…

Strange that her name is Ophelia, and I’m the one who’s bat-crap crazy…

With all my hatred,

Marilyn

Why is Marilyn writing her mother?

Will she write more?

What will they say, if she does?

Any guesses?

Come back tomorrow for another installment, and we can explore this new story seed together!